Football fans lash out at homophobic abuse

A report detailing the level of homophobic abuse directed at Brighton and Hove football fans has been handed to the FA, in a bid to tackle often-neglected concerns around anti-gay behaviour in the stands.

Brighton and Hove fans teamed up with the Gay Football Supporters' Network (GSFN) to produce the report, which documented homophobic abuse during 70% of away games and 57% of all features.

"For us it is really simple. If the words relating to a person's sexuality were replaced with words relating to someone's race or skin colour, would those chants be acceptable? In all these cases they would not and appropriate action would be taken," the report said.

Brighton's large gay community has long been a source of jokes during matches, which many write off as standard banter.

But with football chants coming under greater scrutiny and potentially homophobic statements increasingly being considered on a par with racism, campaigners feel they are in a good position to harden the FA's approach.

The report also highlights two instances where opposition players made homophobic gestures at supporters in the terraces and documented one occasion when language from opposition fans was so bad the local radio station was forced to go off air and issue and apology.

"Brighton fans have been the subject of 'banter' about the city's gay community for as long as many of our fans can remember," Sarah Watts, Brighton and Hove Albion Supporters' Club secretary, said.

"We hope this report will increase public awareness and help educate our fellow members of the football family of the issues faced, to address them and, ultimately the need to treat each other with basic respect."

There has been a ban on anti-gay chants in English football since 2007.

The report comes after complaints about recent chanting in the England vs San Marino World Cup Qualifier.

The Federation against Racism in Europe (FARE) raised worries over a song about throwing he Ferdinand brothers on a bonfire – a modified version of a song sung by Manchester United fans against Liverpool and Manchester City.

There was considerable confusion over the complaint, with many supporters insisting it has no racist overtones.